Ganeshotsav, Pune (Part I: The Almighty)

In the edition published on the first day of the Ganesh Utsav, the Times Of India had very rightly mentioned Lord Ganesh as Pune’s ‘Favourite Guest’. And indeed he is. It is the biggest publicly celebrated festival in Pune and its grandeur is breathtaking. During this festival almost every street is decorated and there is a Ganesh Mandal on almost every corner of the city. Barring the traffic jams it causes, the city gets a very auspicious touch to its heritage and all of a sudden is pumped with undying energy to celebrate the festival. Every Mandal and its organizers have an innate sense of affinity to their Ganesh Idol. But the Ganesh Mandals located in the heart of the city are special in this context. Every Punekar from any point of Pune and from any creed finds affinity towards these Ganesh Idols. These Mandals include Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai, Hutatma Babu Genu, Mahatma Phule Mandai, Bhausaheb Rangari, the 5 Honoured Ganpatis (Maanaache Ganpati) and a few others.

Someone very rightly had once told me that the beauty of the Idol lies in its eyes. When you stand in front of the Ganesh Idols and look directly into the eyes, the gap between you and the almighty suddenly seems to abridge and you find yourself to be isolated from the crowd and in his abode. This feeling may last until the next devotees in line start pushing you and persuade you to move on. Even though that feeling may last only up to a split second, it is enough to restore or strengthen your belief in God. And who better deserves the credit than the artist who created the mesmerizing and life like Idol!

The Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati's 7 storied  Mandap.

Hutatma Babu Genu Mandal's House boat Mandap

Sharada Ganesh - Mahatma Phule Mandai Mandal Ganpati

Jilbya Maruti Mandal Ganpati

Manacha 4th Ganpati - Tulshibaug
Manacha 3rd Ganpati - Guruji Talim
Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati in all its grandeur

About the Visrajan Rally or the Miravnuk; it is even more awaited than Ganesh Chaturthi itself. While attending the rally, amid all the enthusiasm and pep, you get an awkward feeling that people seem to be happier about Lord Ganesh’s departure than his arrival. The rally is a must watch, be it in person or on TV. Of course in person is better, but not all can bear the crowd. In the visarjan rally each mandal prepares its own grand and mesmerizing ‘Rath’ or chariot befitting the stature of the Idol, which is preceded by an array of ‘pathaks’ or groups performing various art forms like Lezim, Sword Fighting etc and Dhol-Tasha or Brass band pathaks. But recently, many Mandals have started to employ huge Dolby systems and prefer the loud Bollywood chartbusters over the traditional beats of the Dhol-Tasha. I do not know the reason behind this, but can surely say that it reduces the ethnic quotient of the event. Dancing to the beats of the Dhol and the sizzle of the Tasha is like eating a puranpoli; traditional, occasional and eternally pleasing.

This year, thanks to the rains which deliberately chose to pour on the visarjan day, I could barely click and couldn't experience the rally to the fullest. I had an expensive camera in my hands and hence had to run for shelter! But not even the rains could stop the hardcore enthusiastic and ever pumped crowd of Pune from playing the Dhol-Tashe and dancing to their beats. Having said that, the rain did eventually succeed in disrupting the flow of the event and was one of the primary reasons for the early finish of the rally this year. The energy of the organizers, the Dhol-Tasha players and the spectators, to relentlessly manage, play and dance for over 24 hours is commendable. It is surprising how the people who usually get tired after an 8 hour work shift or a 5 hour college, tirelessly participate in the 20-24 hour rally with no sleep and minimum rest. Do they indeed derive energy from the divine high above? You'll have to participate once to know that.

The Dagdusheth Temple
Sheshatmaja Rath - Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai
Mahatma Phule Mandai Mandal's Sharada Ganesh
Shri Ram Rath 2012 (Left), Balaji Rath 2013

Balaji Rath, Mandai Ganpati (2013)
(Zoom Burst is done manually with camera and not photoshopped)
The fierce look of the Mouse is indeed stunning.
( Guruji Talim, Manacha 3rd Ganpati, 2012)

(Zoom Burst is done manually with camera and not photoshopped)
The enormous Tulshibaug Ganpati, Manacha 4th Ganpati (2012)
Kailas Shankar Rath

Navasacha Ganpati, Hutatma Babu Genu Mandal (2012)

Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati (2012)
Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati (2013)
Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari Ganpati (2012)

Camera: Nikon D5100 with Nikorr 18-105mm


  1. Photographs are indeed very captivating and divine but as this is a kind of photo journal n not an article.. i would have loved to see few pics of Pathak's,performers and crowd.

    1. As i said, the rains didn't really permit me to do that. Bt i did get a few clicks which i'll b posting in part 2 of the article
      thanks fr the suggestion n response

    2. good snaps abhishek..!!!! :) :) keep up the goodwork..!!!

    3. thanks :-)
      and i'll try my best

  2. Dude the pics are very nice especially the transitions in colours.... Great work...